Veerender Ahirwar was trained as a Community Correspondent in February 2013. Armed with his camera, he returned to his native village in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh and knew immediately what issue he would pick to make a first video.
"My uncle who lives in Kumangva village is one of 10 people who don't receive their old age pension in the village. I had heard him complain on several occasions on visits. So I knew I would make a video on this; I think it is sad that the elders in the community are being treated with no dignity", says Veerender.
The 10 people aged over 60 have been at the mercy of the Village headman and the village council's secretary. Repeated attempts to reason with them to be put on the list for their old age pension have amounted to nothing.
"When our own headman didn't listen to us, we went to the District Collector and State District Magistrate. They in turn asked us to file an application with the village council and said that a public hearing on the matter would be the fastest way to remedy the situation", says Sunderlal, one of the pensioners.
The men and women have toiled on their farms for a better part of their lives and have managed to save little from this. To provide for themselves, they continue to work on odd jobs even as they grow old. Sunderlal broke his hand in a fall soon before the video was filmed. He is now unable to go out and to get work.
"The problem that I saw when I went to Kumangva was that the village headman and secretary were taking advantage of their position in the village and of the ignorance of the villagers. The villagers were unsure until some time ago as to what exactly the pension amount due to them was and what age they had to be to qualify for it", explains Veerender.
"So when I went to talk to them last month, that was the first time they got clear answers from anyone. We are now waiting for a council hearing on the matter. The headman knows that they are not alone and there are people behind them", says Veerender.
Stand behind them, make your support known.
Call to Action: Call Mr Shaktinarayan, the Village Council Secretary on 09302584724 and ask him to ensure that the 10 elderly men and women of Kumangva get the pension they are entitled to.
About the Partnership: The Poorest Areas Civil Society (PACS) Programme and Video Volunteers have come together to create the Community Correspondents Network. The videos generated by the network will be able to highlight voices from the margins, providing skills to social communicators to provide advocacy tools to community based organisations.
If not for the intervention by our community correspondent, the poor villagers would have continued paying taxes for a land they didn't own.
Millions of lives were directly dependent on the once flourishing Apple farming industry of Kashmir.